Monday, April 16, 2012

India will supply power to neighbours but not to its own State!


Pakistan will buy 500 MW of power from India, says an NDTV Profit news item. 500MW is the initial requirement; it can increase to 5,000 MW in the next 5 years! A team of Indian experts will discuss the terms and conditions of supply with Pakistan's Central Power Purchase Agency. Notice the speed at which this power trade is progressing-
  • In April, 2011 there were Secreatry level talks between India and Pakistan regarding power supply to Pakistan.
  • In October, 2011 the Group of Experts from both the countries considered the proposal for setting up a joint transmission infrastructure. The Hindu called it an extension of onion diplomacy!
  • Anand Sharma's Feb-12 visit to Pakistan with 150 member delegation gave further impetus to this.
  • Last week a Delhi Company offered power to Pakistan @ Rs. 7.50/ unit.
  • Though Pakistan found the price to be high, it still agreed in principle to buy.
  • World Bank will extend a loan for setting up the transmission line in six months.
Let us move on to another similar development.

NTPC to supply 250 MW to Bangladesh says an Economic Times report dated February 29, 2012. Power Purchase agreement between the countries has been inked. Transmission lines between the countries will be set up by July-13.

Now look at India's power situation. Though India is the fifth largest producer of power in the world, it also is one of the lasrgest power deficit countries. The Central Electricity Authority of India in its report of May-2011 projects a peaking shortage of 17,519 MW or 12.9% for 2011-12. While States like UP, Maharashtra, Bihar, J&K & MIzoram will have deficits in excess of 25%, Andhra, Tamilnadu, Punjab, West Bangal, etc will experience a deficit in excess of 15%. As a Mckinsey report puts it, blackouts and load shedding have artificially suppressed the demand. In other words, the demand-supply gap can be higher than that estimated by Central Electricity Auhtority.

Wikepedia's article on Electricity Sector in India puts the number of those who do not have electricity in India at 300 mill by December, 2011.

So that is the position of power situation in India. With such a delicate power balance, the UPA2 is very eager to supply electricity to Pakistan and Bangladesh! And look at the audacity of Pakistan which is a worse power shortage country whose generation has shrunk by 50% in recent years and which needs the Indian power desperately-
  • an official of the Pakistan's power ministry says that  his country needs to ascertain 'how much India is relying on electricity trade as New Delhi had abandoned the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, saying Pakistan is an unreliable partner' reports NDTV Profit! Looks like beggar can be a chooser!
  • Pakistan's 'The Nation' newspaper alleges that India built dams on Pakistani rivers in violation of Indus Water Treaty, generated power and succeeded in selling the same to Pakistan!
Some 'progressive' will immediately point out that India's installed capacity is 186 GW and these 500 MW and 250 MW do not constitute even 1% of the capacity, that this has to be seen in 'context', that it will open up trade ties with Pakistan, etc.

Let's see the 'context'. Let's contrast the above enthusiasm of the Indian Government to meet Pakistan/ Bangladesh's demands with what it has done to the demand of one of its States. Tamilnadu has been reeling under power shortage due to a callous DMK Government ignoring the sector for whole of its 5 year rule. The current deficit in Tamilnadu is estimated at 4000 MW. Jayalalitha, as soon as she assumed power in May, 2011 wrote the Prime Minister to allocate 1000 MW from the Central Pool. The same UPA Government which was ever ready to export power to Pakistan and Bangladesh, allocated just 100 MW, that too after many reminders and 9 months! Even the power it purchased from Gujarat and UP could not be used because of congestion in the transmission.

Now if 750 MW is less than 1% of India's installed capacity, so is 1000 MW. Why this hurry to supply power to Pakistan and Bangladesh? Is it just that a 'progressive' 'secular' media will hail this as a path breaking foreign policy initiative of UPA Government? Is the desire to be seen as 'secular' more important than satisfying the genuine demand of a State of India? Does a State, just because it is ruled by a party which is not part of ruling coalition becomes more alien than Pakistan?

27 comments:

  1. Strange. How on earth is that possible when we are forced to bear the load shedding and power cuts?

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    1. Yes it is strange, but that's what we are doing in the name of diplomacy!

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  2. It is like sharing the Poha, by Kuchela, may be. Our culture of being good - but, taking this a bit far.

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  3. Manmohan's is the funniest government I have seen! I dont know if I should be sad or happy about being part of this era!!

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    1. The media pressure is so much on the government that it does not distinguish between what is right and what is popular. Very sad indeed.

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  4. Well! We have exported food at low prices and almost simultaneously imported at high prices. This power trade is par for the course

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    1. You are right. Earlier it was food. There seems to be a pattern.

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  5. Being popular on world stage is more important than being pragmatic and ruling well. and how does it matter to the government? You must surely have heard the 'kadai thenga vazhi pillayarukku' story, haven't you? We the people have to suffer and pay through the nose for the power we use and which is rationed.

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    1. Agreed. But there is one more Tamil proverb- Thankku minjinathuthan dhaanam, dharmam. Till we attain reasonable self sufficiency in power, export to neighbors with dubious reputation is a sin.

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  6. A pat on the back from outsiders is more satisfying than the comfort of those at home... sad

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  7. okay this is wierd..in summers this country barely manages to supply power in the urban centres..while a frnd of mine living in bhadohi near banaras says there are power cuts of 36 hours there..and here this country is all geared up to export electricity now...gosh

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    1. Precisely! This discrimination is unacceptable.

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  8. It is not about the production of electricity which is a problem in India. It is about the transmission / distribution across the country and sad state of affairs with the state electricity boards (SEB) and relevant PSUs. Look at how the APDRP programs (which are meant to streamline the electricity distribution processes and cut down on losses in transmission) are being managed. They are initiated years back, but there are no results yet.

    Power distribution is more complex than food or any other such products distribution. Allocation from the 'pool' depends on the location as well.

    Government at central level (am not supporting any political party here :-) will have obligations to meet certain needs of neighbors. We being peace lovers would never hesitate to extend olive branch :-)

    I like the 'beggars are chosers' part :-)

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    1. First thanks for the analytical comment. I have three point to make.
      1. In my view it is both generation and transmission- while generation falls short of demand by 13% today, as per Mckinsey report the same will increase to 40% in the next 3 years. Transmission losses are around 20%.
      2.) While congestion in the transmission infrastructure was identified a year back when Jayalalitha raised the demand, nothing has been done to it till date.
      3.) More than generation and distribution, what I was trying to emphasize was the Centre's apathy to the opposition ruled States and desire to be seen as secular.

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    2. Loss figures are cumulative every year and 20% must be an 'official' number or probably excluding the pilferage. Adding free power supply to a section of people, the woes only get worse.
      Centre's apathy to opposition ruled states can never go away from our political system; funnily, the neighbouring Andhra is doing no better w.r.t power. You must have noticed how the state fared on electricity during recent telengana agitation. Even now, there is a 2 day holiday in hyderabad industrial area. Just imagine the fate of SMEs.

      We should thank you for your wonderful perspectives !

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  9. It's interesting that electricity is also connected with secularism. Jai secularism, jai power (electric power, I mean).

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    1. I am not surprised. Typical secular response- avoid facts; shy away from questions; make in tongue-in-cheek remarks- instead of trying to answer the question - why power is being sold in a hurry to Pakistan when Indian States are being deprived?
      Indeed it is 'secular power'- flows in haphazard manner!

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  10. the problem with electricity supply is it cannot be 'stored' and 'forwarded'. It can only be 'generated' and 'distributed'.

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    1. Thanks. Looks like Andhra is also equally bad.

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  11. Hospitable India never remembers charity begins at home. This is like history repeats Valady Sir. Enjoyed it in your words.

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    1. Yes we forget home and try and serve the neighbour.

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  12. And the Govt conveniently increase the power shut down duration. How absurd.

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    1. I can't imagine what is going to happen in Chennai this summer?

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  13. If I am going to be burdened with anything more than the present 2-hour power-cut, I am going to set up a solar panel for powering my laptop. Yes, I can live without a fan in summer. But not my beloved laptop! :)

    Destination Infinity

    PS: I think individuals should plan their own power generation using renewable energy sources in future.

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  14. That's a good point. I saw a documentary in BBC a few months back where they showed how villages in Vietnam generated their own power from the local water resources.

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